Many cruiser yachtsmen have had to change their plans for 2020; Five share tips to prepare for sailing during Covid in 2021
With such travel uncertainty, should cruisers keep sailing during Covid?
There is a moral difficulty here.
“We advise people to wait another year,” says Janneke Kujsters, who, along with partner Weitze, found it difficult to be stuck in the South Pacific for part of 2020.
“The countries that are popular with cruisers are usually the poorest countries to receive vaccines last.
You will travel to countries with weak and congested health systems that are still at high risk of infection.
In 2022, a lot of this could be more under control and pose less risk. ”
Some regions remain virtually outside borders; much of the South Pacific is either closed to new arrivals, full, or both.
Even yachts that made it to Australia or New Zealand faced breathtaking mandatory quarantine and marina fees.
You might be better off changing your country travel plans to reduce your risk if you plan to sail during Covid.
Elena Manighetti spent 2020 crossing the Atlantic and cruising the southern Caribbean aboard her Tayana 37 Skua with her partner.
“In 2021, I would have done it easier - the situation changes daily, and the requirements for arrivals change almost weekly.
I would choose a large country (or two) that I like and spend most of my time traveling around it, never getting too far from the harbor. "
“If you go,” says Janneke Kuisters, “go with a light heart. We see people getting tired of the endless changes in requirements and just go somewhere and sort it out upon arrival.
Usually everything is decided and people are allowed in.
But if four, five or six boats show up without warning, governments feel disrespected and more and more demands are made on boats that try to do the right thing.
"Kindness and compassion are at the heart of the cruise community: we must all work to ensure that this continues for the next traveling generations."
The need to cross the Strait of Mozambique non-stop was not the only impact Covid had on Jannecke and Witze's world travel. They also spent 11 weeks at the peak of the pandemic anchored in the Maldives.
We asked them and other cruise couples for advice on how to prepare for a cruise in an ever-changing world.
“The most rewarding thing we did was buy a lot of information in the Maldives,” Yanneke recalls.
“It was 40 ° C every day, with high humidity. We were not allowed ashore. The presence of a large amount of the Internet makes your brain busy: you can explore possible options, develop plans A, B, C ... "
They also used it for WhatsApp groups at anchorages so that cruisers could quickly share information.
Joshua Shankle, who spent three months on an uninhabited Pacific atoll at the height of the pandemic, agrees:
“After Covid left us in such isolation in 2020, we have a new respect for cellular and satellite networks.
We had a Garmin InReach on board, which was useful for communicating and receiving news updates when we were offline, and while we didn't mind the limited plan of just text messaging and weather, other cruisers preferred the more feature-rich Iridium satellite phones.
The opportunity to meet with loved ones is a worthy waste. We are expanding our plan for 2021 to include unlimited tracking and text messaging. ”
Permanent stay on the boat during quarantine period can place high demands on onboard power generation.
Safari sailors Phil Johnson and his partner anchored in Antigua for over two months aboard their 47-foot Sonder.
“Solar panels with a capacity of about 600W combined with a 3000W Victron inverter and 900Ah lithium batteries allowed us to continue working full time during the entire lockout period at anchor.
That was enough to power our laptops for more than eight hours a day, make water, and let Zoom calls with friends and family.
This helped us stay in a safe quarantine while staying connected and keeping our online business running.
We used a local SIM for internet data and topped up when we went out to the grocery store. ”
3. Shore contact
Inevitably more paperwork, and with frequent rule changes, it is important to be able to fill out the paperwork at sea.
Having back-up shore contact can be invaluable.
“On the way to Sri Lanka, our agent (always in Sri Lanka) started sending us all kinds of forms while we were at sea,” recalls Janneke Kuysters.
“Due to the limited number of satellite connections, this has become a problem. No forms, no entry into the country.
A cruise friend of mine who was still in Malaysia got the same forms and filled them out for us.
“We photographed our signatures, added the seal of our ship, reduced the file size and were able to send it to him via satellite.
He inserted it into the forms and submitted them on our behalf.
“Since then, we always have contact with the shore, which can handle unexpected shapes for us.
We will make sure that our onshore contact has copies of our passports and ship documents. ”
“You have to pay for help.
If isolation is introduced in a country, the rules are clear. You will not enter.
But there is always the opportunity to buy fuel, food and water.
Expect to pay a lot of cash for this in US dollars or euros. So it is very useful to have a cash deposit in small bills on hand, ”says Jannecke.
Thanks to their high-volume tanks, many cruisers did not previously rely on a desalination plant - until 2020.
Everyone we spoke to noted this as an important upgrade or service priority for future cruises.
Anna Caroline does not have a desalination plant on board.
“In all the years of the cruise, we never had a problem with water, so we gave it up,” explains Jannecke.
“Staying in a very hot anchorage showed us that 10 liters a day is enough for the two of us, but we didn’t have enough water to do our laundry. We exchanged with other cruisers - taught their children in exchange for water or laundry. "
6. Stock up
Philip Steventon travels the Mediterranean with her family in her Bowman 40 Bella.
Like many cruisers, she changed her supply plan: “We had more food on board than needed in case we needed to make a longer voyage or stay at anchor for a longer period of time.
"We also preferred to do bulk purchases from warehouses, rather than making many trips to multiple stores."
“It's worth having a lot of food on board that will last for at least two weeks [quarantine] after your arrival date, even if you know the country will pick up all your fresh produce as soon as you clear customs,” adds Jannecke.
Basic soldering may suffice.
“When it got really bad in March, we put a 10-pound bag of rice and some more dry food on board just in case,” Phil Johnson recalls of Sonder.
"That would be enough for 14 days of sailing if we were between the borders in the Caribbean, and we would have no choice but to return to the United States."
“It's not just food, buy fuel and water whenever you can,” advises Janneke. “We saw that the supply of food to the countries was disrupted; you are competing with the locals for affordable food.
When you are in quarantine at the anchorage, you will be the last person to buy something. Make sure you have enough to last longer than you think.
“The same applies to things that you usually think are available everywhere; a broken phone charger cable can be a big problem if you don't have a spare. "
7. Testing and insurance
PCR testing on arrival and / or departure is likely to be a fact of life for some time and requires an appropriate budget.
Health insurance can also be a condition of entry.
“We expect countries to require proof of Covid health insurance and / or repatriation insurance.
We see that the first countries (Malaysia, Ascension Island) are already making such demands. Make sure you have the required paperwork, ”says Kuysters.
8. Stay up to date
Facebook cruise groups and WhatsApp chat groups are often quicker to update with the latest situation changes than the official channels.
“Find out before you leave. It's hard to overestimate how useful noonsite.com is for checking the latest border / quarantine regulations for seafarers, advises Phil Johnson.
Philip Steventon recalls: “We followed local and UK news on the Internet as diligently as we followed the weather.
This meant that when we heard the buzz that Mallorca was returning to stricter measures in the middle of the summer, we could seize the chance to go out to sea before getting stuck. "
You can spend more time in the water, possibly still.
“Choose harder antifouling paints,” says Janneke Kujsters.
“You will most likely sail fewer miles than you think.
Marine growth is very fast, especially in tropical waters. ”
10. Official help
“Make sure your embassy knows where you are and what you are doing. Our overseas representation was very useful to us, ”advises Janneke Kujsters.
But she warns: "They can expect you to board a repatriation flight, and you will have nowhere to leave the boat."
For British sailors in Europe, Brexit, combined with the pandemic, has created significant bureaucratic problems.
“We are currently working with an agent here in Sicily, from Luise Yachting, who is doing a great job to keep us on the right side of the government,” explains Philippe Steventon.
“Our planned trip back to the UK for Christmas has become impossible due to pandemic restrictions and flight cancellations.
So on December 31st we were British citizens in Europe and our Schengen clock started ticking.
“Due to the blockages both here in Italy and in the UK, it is very likely that we will need to apply for an extension of our 90 days, but this visa does not exist yet and you can just apply.
Our agent was told four completely different versions of what we should do to satisfy the authorities. "
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